How legal is sports betting in USA?

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Almost two years have passed since the sports betting federal ban was struck down by the Supreme Court and states were given the freedom to make wagering legal. In those years, there have been lots of changes. Some states have rushed to take advantage of the opportunity while others have delayed taking action. So, where is it legal to bet on sports and where is it still illegal to use the best betting sites? Here, we take a closer look at where in the country you’re now able to legally place a wager on your favourite sports. We also look at which states are likely to legalize sports betting in the near future.

The Current State Of Play

Currently, sports betting is legal in 20 states as well as Washinton DC. Those 20 states are:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia

However, not all sports betting is legal in all of these states. Six states only allow physical sportsbooks while five permit full mobile betting and five only allow partial mobile betting. The remaining five have only recently legalized sports betting so no wagering has yet taken place.

Physical Sportsbooks Only

Arkansas launched legalized sports betting in July 2019 but only in physical premises, so no mobile betting is possible. This is despite a bill appearing in the state legislature which would have made full mobile betting legal but which encountered problems due to integrity fees inclusion for leagues.

Delaware was the first state to legalize sports betting but due to only having permitted physical sportsbooks it is still a long way behind other states like New Jersey when it comes to betting volume.

Illinois has only just pushed its sports betting bill through, and the state is giving brick-and-mortar licensed operations an 18-month headstart over online operators. Although licensed physical sportsbooks are permitted to offer mobile sports betting immediately, in-person registration is still required for the first 18 months.

Michigan made sports betting legal in December 2019 but only at physical premises. Mobile betting is on the way, but probably not for another year or so. New York state is in a similar situation, with only four casinos upstate currently permitting in-person betting and mobile betting being somewhere in the future.

Although no bill has been passed in New Mexico, the Native American tribes have determined their sportsbooks are officially legal under state tribal gaming compacts.

Recently Legalized States

Colorado only legalized sports betting in November 2019 and no wagering has yet taken place. However, it’s believed that mobile wagering will be permitted and several sports betting companies have already signed on in the state including PointsBet and BetAmerica. The first bets will probably be taken in May 2020.

Montana legalized sports betting in May 2019 but, despite efforts to get things moving for the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, nothing has yet been launched. This is a similar situation to Washington DC, where sports betting was legalized in March 2019 in the hope of having physical sportsbooks ready to accept bets by the time football season came around, but a year on nothing has yet emerged.

North Carolina has legalized in-person sports wagering at two Native American tribal casinos in the west of the state but currently, there are no plans for mobile sports betting.

Tennessee is set to be the first US state to offer online-only sports betting, but no rules have yet been written and no plans have yet been put in place by the state authorities to establish operators.

Legal Mobile Betting

Indiana legalized full mobile betting in October 2019 and several big-name online sportsbooks are now operating in the state. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey too, have permitted full mobile betting and Oregon also officially launched mobile betting run by the Oregon Lottery in October 2019.

Iowa, meanwhile, has only partially legalized mobile betting by requiring bettors to make an in-person registration before being able to bet on their smartphone. This is similar to the state of play in Nevada where bettors have to register in person in a casino before being permitted to bet online.

Mississippi, too, only has partial mobile wagering which is only permitted inside casinos while Rhode Island, despite being the smallest state, has been offering legalized sports wagering for nearly two years already and is unique in allowing 18-year-olds to bet.

Project To Legalize In The Near Future

There are 8 further states that are projected to legalize sports betting in 2020. Six of those are currently under consideration by legislature, while one is awaiting the governor’s signature on the bill and one may need a referendum to be held. These eight states are:

  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Virginia

2021 is likely to see another twelve states embracing legalized sports betting in one form or another, but the remaining ten states are, at the moment, showing limited or no movement towards legalizing sports betting. Still, for keen bettors in the USA, at least progress is being made and now, there are many more places where they can indulge in their favourite pastime, betting on all the sports that they love and enjoying reaping the benefits of their winnings without having to worry about legalities.